How to Learn from an Interview Gone Wrong

The interview component of your job search can be the most stressful part of the process.  It can be an intense and anxiety-inducing time because it feels like your future depends on this moment.  In particular, when you are  face to face with your interviewer at the company of your dreams!

Sometimes, we can be uber-prepared and confident going into an interview, and yet we still feel once it’s done that somewhere, somehow, it went horribly wrong.  However, it’s possible that you can learn from this experience. Here are 4 ways you can learn from an interview gone wrong:

1. Write everything down

Get yourself to a coffee shop right after your interview, sit down, grab your notebook and pen and start documenting your experience. Start with your feelings and thoughts post-interview. How did you feel when you entered the office?  During the interview and when it was over?  Can you pinpoint when you started feeling something was wrong?  Was there an obvious turning point in the interview where you knew you screwed up or made a mistake?

Next, document all the questions that were asked. Think about your answers that you were unhappy with. This is a great approach if you are just starting your interview process.  If there were questions you were unprepared for, now’s the time to get your answers right!

Last but not least, be brutally honest with yourself about your feelings towards the position and company. What was your mindset like going into the room?  Were you truly interested in the job?  Did you get enough sleep the night before?  Being honest with yourself helps you to accept your responsibility in the process and give you insight into how to do better next time.

2. Talk to your tribe

Ask the people around you who you can trust with their objectivity.  Share your experience with them and see what they think. Perhaps they have a different  perspective they can offer you that you never considered and give you honest feedback.

3. Send a thank you note  

Despite how you think the interview went, don’t skip this step. If you made a blunder during the interview (like calling the interviewer by the wrong name, not asking any questions or spilling your glass of water), take advantage of the thank you note to recover from your mistake and provide clarification if you can. This may even be the opportunity to ask for another chance!

4. Remember your successes

What did you do well during this particular job search?  Think of the things you did leading up to and during the interview that are things you can be proud of.  Write them down. And always remember, the fact that you got an interview is a huge accomplishment in of itself!

Resiliency is key at this stage! Don’t lose hope or beat yourself up about it.  There are so many factors that influence an interview that are beyond your control.  So don’t go down a path of despair and self-doubt.  Be extra gentle to yourself.  Take the time to feel the disappointment, process what happened, mull it over, complain to your friends – then transition yourself into accepting what happened so you can let that interview go, and look forward to the next one, armed with everything you have learned through the process.

Just like Nat King Cole says, “pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again.”

Photography adapted from CreateHerStock


  1. Chad says:

    And never be afraid to ask for feedback. As humbling as it can be, it can shed light on flaws to which you are blind.

    3.27.17 ·
  2. Loved the way you weaved these words “Last but not least, be brutally honest with yourself about your feelings towards the position and company.”

    3.20.17 ·

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